Three are different, but they're all gifts
My heart holds three little boys, two J's and a B.
At 4, B is the oldest and the one I know most intimately because he spent his first years living in my house. Now, as the occasional visitor, he still rules the roost. He insists on retrieving the mail and the newspaper, unloading the dishwasher and taking out the garbage.
Even though I feed the goldfish regularly, when he asks, I must tell a white lie and claim I don't. He demands no one feed them but him, even if a week or two has stretched between his visits. He's heading off this week to 4-year-old kindergarten, but we can't call it that. It's pre-K, he insists.
Yes, he's a tyrant, but a loveable one.
Who else gives me a million kisses and revels in spending Saturday morning at yard sales with me?
He drags me to the neighborhood ice cream store so he can gobble a cone and then spend an hour climbing the ladders and sliding through a tube that brings him back to ground level.
He professes love for his Granny. He loves me more than I love him, he insists. If I love him a million, he loves me a million billion, and if that number doesn't suit, he loves me 6-8-9-7-2. So there.
The older of the two J's loves me too. You can see it in his face when I walk in his front door. He runs down the hallway beaming, extending a welcome that wipes out the pain of driving the disaster that is Route 581 to reach his house.
Sometimes he hugs me tightly and says, "My Granny." Very possessive. I like that.
He's a much sweeter child. Gentle in many ways, but all boy. When I call and ask what he's doing, it's always the same answer, "Playing cars and trucks."
He entertains himself for hours with his cars and trucks. Very independent.
He's also nimble with a soccer ball, a skill he acquired, I believe, in the backyard with Daddy and his older sister.
Of the three little men in my life, he's the only one with siblings. Both are older, and he's sopped up their knowledge like a sponge.
He went off to nursery school Thursday. He'll be at school two mornings a week. From the excitement, you would have thought he was entering Harvard.
He's been preparing for weeks. He's ready for playtime and circle time and anxious to make new friends.
"I'll just ask them, 'Do you want to play?'" he said.
The 3-year-old J also has an uncanny knack for music. Before he could talk, he was humming songs with perfect pitch. Later, he added the words.
It's not unusual to hear him on the porch, playing with cars and singing "Jingle Bells," oblivious to the fact that Christmas is months away.
The second J, I don't see as much, but he and his parents recently spent a weekend at my house. At just shy of 2, he's insistent on keeping Mom and Dad within his sight.
He prefers I keep my distance, but he'll laugh and flirt with me, his big blue eyes sparkling, as long as I don't try to pick him up. Aside from reticence, he has little fear. He'll climb, slide or jump on anything.
Mom and Dad shared video of him from their recent beach vacation. It shows him running full steam toward the ocean, then throwing himself, face down, in the waves.
Along with water, he loves fire engines, noisy toys and little balls he can throw all over the house.
He's also adept at snatching things he's not supposed to touch, such as telephones and remote controls, and hiding them, prompting an all-out parental search.
If the older J likes making music, this one likes dancing to it. He contorts his little body like a late-night dancer at a Second Street club.
Three boys, all different, with one thing in common: Each is a gift. If I never get another present in my life, I won't care.
When I'm with one of them, I have all I need.